Ecophysiology of Plants
Course infoSchedule
Course moduleNWI-BB018C
Credits (ECTS)6
Language of instructionDutch
Offered byRadboud University; Faculty of Science; BioWetenschappen;
dr. E.J.W. Visser
Other course modules lecturer
dr. E.J.W. Visser
Other course modules lecturer
Contactperson for the course
dr. E.J.W. Visser
Other course modules lecturer
dr. E.J.W. Visser
Other course modules lecturer
Academic year2018
KW3  (28/01/2019 to 07/04/2019)
Starting block
Course mode
Registration using OSIRISYes
Course open to students from other facultiesYes
Waiting listNo
Placement procedure-
In this course, you will learn how plants interact with their abiotic and biotic environment. Key are the traits that determine the survival and reproduction of plants. Environmental conditions typically vary in time and space, and plants must respond to these variations to be successful, both at the level of the individual and (ultimately) at the level of the population. Moreover, the less variable but extreme conditions in some habitats amy also challenge plant performance.
The ways that plants adapt to these environmental conditions will be the main focus of this course. You will learn the results of acclimation and adaptation of plants in the short and the long term (e.g., analysis of ultimate costs and benefits of responses), but also you will gain insight into the mechanisms that trigger these adaptations, including their regulatory pathways.
The course will be taught based on a reader with theory and examples, next to lectures that will support you in learning the theory. This part will finish with an written exam.
The practical part of this course will teach you to define research questions and hypotheses, to work out an experimental protocol, and to perform experiments to test your hypotheses. The time planning for this experimentation period will largely be the responsibility of you and your team. This part will finish with an oral presentation that shows your capacity to integrate theory and experimental results.
After successfully completing this course, you will have acquired the following skills:
1. you will be able to identify under which environmental conditions abiotic resources, such as carbon, light, water, nutrients and space, will become limiting for plants, and how these limitations come about 
2. you will be able to quantitatively describe and analyse plant growth, and based on this analysis deduct how changes in allocation patterns lead to optimum growth
3. you will be able to predict how adaptation and acclimation of the phenotype (morfologically, anatomically and metabolically) of plants in response to abioc and biotic stress optimizes performance
4. you will be able to explain which variation in resource availability may be expected, and how plants occupy their own niche to compete for these resources
5. you will be able to place variation in plant traits in an evolutionary context
Moreover, you will be able to:
6. design experiments that test hypotheses within the above mentioned theory
7. perform experiments in a team, in which plants are subjected to treatments, and in which the response of these plants is carefully monitored with previously practised measuring methods
8. select a suitable statistical test and apply this to the acquired data
9. present your data orally in a concise way and discuss them in a theoretical context
This course addresses the ecophysiology of plants. The following topics will be discussed:
  • acquisition of resources (how plants intercept their natural resources - nutrients, water, light, space etc.)
  • growth and allocation (which factors determine growth, and what is causing differences in biomass and energy allocation to the various organs and processes)
  • stress factors and responses (how plants acclimate to changes in their environment and to suboptimal conditions)
  • heterogeneity and diversity (how easy is it to apply the concepts learned in the previous lectures to "the real world", where plants interact in vegetation structures and where only rarely one environmental factor is limiting growth
Additional comments
This course will be taught for two days a week.
Attending the days scheduled for the practical part is mandatory, which will occupy a large part of the second half of the course. These days typically are full, eight-hour workdays!

Test information
Grading of the course consists of a wwritten exam (theoretical nature) and laboratory assignments (practical nature)

The following courses must have been attended to enrole in this course:

• Evolutie en ontwikkelingsbiologie van planten
• Energieconversie in de cel (m.n. fotosynthese)
• Plantenfysiologie

Please contact the course coordinator if you have a deficiency in these courses. Note that this course will be taught in Dutch!

Required materials
Lecture notes of the course

Instructional modes
Course occurrence

Lab course
Attendance MandatoryYes


Practical computer training
Attendance MandatoryYes

Attendance MandatoryYes

Attendance MandatoryYes

Response course



Test weight3
Test typeExam
OpportunitiesBlock KW3, Block KW4

Test weight2
Test typeLab course
OpportunitiesBlock KW3, Block KW4